The Tampa Bay Lightning have home-ice advantage but are posted as underdogs on the NHL betting lines to win the Stanley Cup Finals round against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They have experience on their side, which is a huge factor. The Blackhawks have been there, done that and they aren’t going to be fazed by anything in this series. The fact that they don’t have home-ice advantage means nothing. They’ll be just fine wherever these games are played. On the flip side, the Lightning are young and inexperienced. Many of them haven’t been in this position before, so this is going to be new territory for them.
While the Lightning do have home-ice advantage, it hasn’t meant much to them in the playoffs. Yes, they won more games at home than any other team in the regular season but we already saw the Detroit Red Wings win in Tampa Bay twice, the Montreal Canadiens once and the New York Rangers twice. Chicago won’t have any problems either.
The Blackhawks are on a mission and they are very focused. They are so close that they can taste it. Everyone knows the West is stronger than the East, so this series shouldn’t be too challenging for Chicago.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Win Because…
The NHL Odds favored Blackhawks haven’t faced an offense like Tampa Bay’s. Sure, they faced the struggling Nashville Predators in Round 1, an overachieving Minnesota Wild squad in Round 2 and a quality Anaheim Ducks team in Round 3, but even so, none of those teams have the weapons that Tampa Bay has. The Lightning led the NHL in scoring in the regular season while Nashville, Anaheim and Minnesota all finished 11th or worse in goals per game. That doesn’t bode well for a Blackhawks team that is giving up 2.94 goals per game. If they allowed nearly three goals per game to weaker offenses, Tampa Bay should be able to light them up too.
The Lightning have exorcised a lot of demons so far this postseason and have matured quickly. They were down 3-2 to the Detroit in the first round and came back. They also blew Game 6 at home to the New York Rangers, losing 7-3, yet still rebounded and won 2-0 on the road in Game 7. While everyone thinks the Blackhawks have all sorts of edges in experience, the truth is that you have to win your first Stanley Cup at some point. For Tampa Bay, this could be their coming out party.
If they can continue to roll their lines and let their offense shine, they should win the series.
Tampa Bay is a quality team but the Blackhawks are on another level. They are playing so well right now that it doesn’t make sense to bet against them. Look for the Blackhawks to get a split in Games 1 and 2, and to eventually seal this deal in Game 6. That’s the bet for my NHL pick.
NHL Series Price Pick: Blackhawks in 6 at Bovada